The ‘Extinction’ Of Bananas Shows Us Why Our Food System Needs Help

Bananas, as we know them, could soon be no more.

According to a new report out last month, the popular Cavendish banana is now at risk of extinction thanks to the spread of a new strain of Panama disease, a fungus that already wiped out the previously dominant banana variety, the Gros Michel, in the 1960s. The difference this time? There’s currently no backup variety on deck.

The news has implications beyond the banana market. As environmental journalist Simran Sethi argues in a new book, Bread, White, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love, what’s happening with bananas is just one of many examples of an international food system that has lost much of its biodiversity. The system, instead, relies on monocultures where a single crop is planted in a field at any given time, which makes farmers particularly vulnerable to diseases and extreme weather that can wipe out entire crops.

In researching her book, Sethi traveled around the world to learn how some of her favorite foods were made and saw firsthand how monocultures are threatening that very process, endangering crops near and dear to our hearts.

Sethi recently spoke with The Huffington Post about her journey and what we, the world’s eaters, can do to ensure our favorite foods are still around for the next generation.

The Huffington Post: What do you make of the articles on bananas going extinct — obviously this is not a new problem, but this was clearly off a lot of peoples’ radar. Why do you think that’s the case?

Simran Sethi: I think consumers, and I do include myself in that category, are insulated from a lot of what happens on farms, and on the ground the people always absorbing the most risk in the food supply chain are farmers. We’ve —> Read More